Flying Squirrel, Phoenix and Lake Beast mascot samples. Artwork courtesy of Ithaca College.
Flying Squirrel, Phoenix and Lake Beast mascot samples. Artwork courtesy of Ithaca College.

Throughout the history of Ithaca College, unofficial mascots have popped up, most vaguely related to the idea of the official team name: “The Bombers.”

Proposed mascots in the past have included a unicorn, a rooster and a fighter pilot. But none has been anointed the face of IC. The college has simply remained without a mascot.

In November of 2010, Ithaca College tried to change that. An initiative led by President Tom Rochon generated hundreds of mascot proposals. For months, the campus debated the possibilities.

Then, in June 2011, President Rochon abruptly ended the discussion: There would be no IC mascot.


In 4 questions and 4 answers, here’s an explanation of the failed search for an IC mascot. Click on the question to find your answer.

1 – How did the mascot search begin?
2 – What were the proposed mascots?
3 – How much did IC spend on the search?
4 – Why wasn’t the campaign successful?

(Did we miss your question? If so, email Kelsey O’Connor at koconnor@ithacavoice.com.)

1 – How did the mascot search begin?

At most colleges and universities, mascots are a school spirit staple. However, Ithaca College has never had one. Since around 1940, Ithaca College’s athletic teams have been coined The Bombers, but since that time there has never been a face to the name.

Students have put together unofficial mascots, including a unicorn, a rooster and a fighter pilot. After years without a mascot, in November of 2010, Ithaca College officials decided it was time to find a mascot and turned to its students, faculty and alumni for ideas. The mascot could be any object or creature as long as its name was “Bomber.”


Back to the questions

2 – What were the proposed mascots?

The task force sifted through more than 250 mascot submissions but eventually narrowed them down to three ideas: a phoenix, a flying squirrel and a lake beast.

The college never released a full list of the submitted ideas but said “every idea you can think of was submitted.” The task force narrowed down the choices to make sure the mascot didn’t resemble that of any institutions Ithaca College regularly competes with.

Artwork for the mascots was drafted and even promotional videos were shot to help students and alumni vote on which mascot they wanted.

To collect feedback, Ithaca College sent out more than 50,726 surveys and received 9,986 responses. Surveys were sent out to students, faculty, staff and all alumni who had a registered email on file.

Back to the questions

3 – How much did IC spend on the search?

The college spent about $1,000 on the effort, according to a statement by Ithaca College President Tom Rochon, which includes the drafts of the artwork, an event centered around the mascot search and other promotional materials.

Back to the questions

4 – Why wasn’t the campaign successful?

In June 2011, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon pulled the plug on the mascot search. In a blog post, he wrote that despite a “substantial majority” who would like to have a mascot, “the minority opposed to having a mascot is large enough and impassioned enough that what began as an initiative to personify Bomber pride instead served a wedge issue to divide us.”

Feedback on the mascot search was mixed and largely divided into three categories: “Those who expressed enthusiasm for one or more of the mascot finalist, those who did not care for any of the three finalists but thought we should continue to look for other mascot options, and those who did not think IC needed a mascot at all,” according to Rochon.

Had the mascot search continued, it looks like the phoenix might have prevailed, according to the mascot conclusion post.

There’s been no word on the search ever picking up again.

Back to the questions

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.